Goodbye plastic shopping bags

Milan campaign for “green” bags

Plastic shopping bags not suitable for composting or recycling have been outlawed in Milan since August, but the Chamber of Commerce and shopkeepers’ association Confcommercio have decided to run a campaign to persuade the hardcore shops and stallholders who are still not respecting the new rules.

Points of sale still offering the old-style, non-recyclable bags for customers to carry off their shopping are liable to fines, which the Chamber of Commerce is delegated to collect. Fines are levied whether the old bags are given away free or charged at the till.

Over the next few days, the city’s over 31,000 shops and market stalls will be targeted with a leaflet and video campaign to persuade them to provide the new, ecological “shoppers”, as shopping bags are called in Italian.

A prime aim of the campaign is to prevent old-style bags from compromising the differentiated collection of “umido” or kitchen waste. Households still using the old bags to bring this category of waste to the collection bins are risking bringing the recycling to a halt until the offending material is located and manually removed. Although Milan is proud of being Italy’s “greenest” city, with differentiated waste collection now covering the whole territory, old-style non-biodegradable bags are still cropping up, and they have a very long life.

A recent poll conducted for the Chamber revealed that milanesi spend an average of four minutes a day sorting their waste, or some 24 hours a year. Paper and plastic collections are most appreciated, but six out of ten also appreciate the kitchen waste collection, the poll revealed. While only one out of every three respondents re-used plastic bags for shopping, some six out of ten now use their own bags.

The campaign is designed to protect both shopkeepers and the community, and to remind residents to use only the new, bio-degradable “shoppers” for throwing away their kitchen waste, said the Chamber.

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